The Supreme Court. (HT archive)
The Supreme Court. (HT archive)

SC to examine whether to review 50% cap on quota: Key points

The apex court said the issue of whether it is time to scrap it on quotas in educational institutions and jobs needs to be answered in the context of the “changed social dynamics of the society” and recent constitutional amendments
By HT Correspondent | Edited by Sameer
PUBLISHED ON MAR 09, 2021 10:01 AM IST

In a radical departure from the legal precedent that has for three decades held the 50% reservation ceiling as inviolable, the Supreme Court on Monday said the issue of whether it is time to scrap it on quotas in educational institutions and jobs needs to be answered in the context of the “changed social dynamics of the society” and recent constitutional amendments. Here is all you need to know about the observation:

• Any attempt to increase the ceiling is loaded with political significance.

• Various states ruled by governments of varying hues have sought in vain until now to do this to address the grievances of one politically important constituency or other.

• The court’s observation came in a case where a reservation for Marathas in Maharashtra caused a breach in the ceiling.

Also Read | Why reservation may fail in levelling the field

• Almost 30 years after a nine-judge bench in the Indra Sawhney case (famously known as the Mandal Commission case) imposed the ceiling of 50% on total reservation, a five-judge bench agreed to examine whether the 1992 ruling should be reconsidered in the wake of various states providing for quota exceeding 50% and the Central government framing law in 2018 for the reservation to economically and socially backward classes.

• Terming it a matter of “seminal importance”, the five-judge bench, headed by justice Ashok Bhushan, issued notices to all states and sought their views on the review of the mandate laid down in the Indra Sawhney case, which ruled that “reservation should not exceed 50%, barring certain extraordinary situations.”

• The 1992 judgment barred reservation solely on economic criterion.

• If the five-judge bench accepts that the judgment in the Indra Sawhney case should be modified, the case will have to be referred to an 11-judge bench because only a bench of larger composition can modify a previous judgment of the Supreme Court.

• The court’s move was endorsed by voices from across the political spectrum.

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